The following is an interview I did with Chevelle Hallback, an XFC fighter who will have her second pro MMA match at the XFC event I'm covering for FightTicker.
Chevelle "Fists of Steel" Hallback is one of the most decorated female boxers of all time. Recently, she made news when she switched to MMA. Chevelle's first pro MMA fight ended with her winning via TKO just 41 seconds into the first round. She looks to repeat that performance on the first pro regulated MMA card that the state ofTennessee will see - XFC 7: School of Hard Knox, on February 20th.
A special thanks goes out to Scott Pinsker with the XFC for making these interviews possible. Check after the jump for the first of four interviews with different fighters on the XFC 7 fight card.
FT: You’re one of the most decorated female boxers of all time – why the move to MMA?
Hallback: Well, I accomplished almost all my goals in boxing. I won four titles and was even made into a video game character [EA Sports “Knockout Kings”]. MMA is a brand new sport – nobody ever heard of MMA when I was a little kid, so everything is new. I’m one of those people who always wants to set new goals and challenges for herself and I have so many goals in MMA. Can you imagine if I become the first female fighter in history to win five combined titles in boxing and in MMA? That’s my goal. So it’s real exciting!
FT: Why did you choose to sign with the XFC?
Why not the XFC? I’ve known [XFC promoter] John Prisco for years. He actually tried to sign me for MMA years ago, but watching XFC grow so fast made me want to be a part of it. And I wanted to be careful where I signed because there are lots of great female fighters that nobody ever hears about because their promotion kind of ignores them. Other than Gina [Carano], there are lots of talented girls that never get any coverage. I knew with XFC I’d get the exposure because they make a real effort to promote their fighters, and not everyone does that.
FT: How does it feel to be part of the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee?
Hallback: Hey, man – I’m always excited about making history! And since this’ll be the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee, that means I’ll be the first-ever pro female fighter to fight in Tennessee. It’s real cool!
FT: Your first pro MMA fight, against Melissa Vasquez, ended at :41 of the first round – are you looking for a similar finish in your second fight?
Hallback: My attitude is, the faster the better, but you can’t get crazy. I’m just looking to do the best I can do. It’s all about pushing yourself hard, being entertaining and making new fans. However the fight ends, if it’s quick, that’s good. If it’s long, that’s good. Just as long as my hand is raised at the end of the fight.
FT: Your striking is clearly top-notch – what have you been doing to work on your ground game?
Hallback: Every, every, every, every, every day! I work on it nonstop, man. So many girls in MMA have been doing this so much longer than me, so I’m constantly working on catching up. I’m really competitive by nature, and I know I’ve got to be well-rounded to become a champion in MMA. Developing my ground game is my way of making an investment in my future.
FT: How does the intensity of your MMA training compare to your boxing training?
Hallback: This is actually much more grueling because you’re using your full body. Boxing is all about your footwork and hands. MMA has all that, but you’re also working on your overall conditioning from head to toe. And the flexibility training is so new to me! It’s real tough, but I’m doing what I do.
FT: Tell us a little bit about your time with the Tampa Bay Force. (Female Pro Football Team)
Hallback: I was the running back and linebacker, so I stayed on the field all the time. I love football and it was a great time. We went undefeated all throughout the regular season, but we were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
FT: You are clearly an amazing athlete – was there ever a point where you had a tough time with your transition to MMA?
Hallback: Not really. Like you said, I’m an athlete. The only part that’s not as easy is learning all those submissions. I wouldn’t say that’s tough – but it’s definitely not as easy as the other aspects of the sport. The submissions are taking time. But I’ll get it down. I know I have the ability to do it, I just need to learn it better.
FT: You held multiple titles in boxing – how long do you think it will take for you to win a title in MMA?
Hallback: I want to get maybe four or five more fights under my belt before I tackle the elite girls in the sport. And I plan on staying real active, so I should be able to reach that goal by the end of the year. I trust my trainer and promoter, and when they tell me I’m ready, I’ll be ready
FT: What’s next for you after this fight?
Hallback: I’ll be fighting live on HDNet on April 25, when XFC returns to Knoxville. Don’t know my opponent yet, but I’ll be ready. TV exposure is always a good thing, so I’m excited.
FT: Is there anybody you’d like to thank or give a shout out to?
Hallback: To all my fans, thanks so much for your support! I love you guys. And I especially want to thank my trainer and friend, Mike Yanez. I’m a brand new player in this game with no amateur background, and his work has transformed me into a real MMA warrior. Mike is a Popovitch [BJJ] black belt and his fighters have won 80% of their MMA fights, so I’m learning from the best. Fighting and punching I already know, and combining Mike’s knowledge with my knowledge, we’re doing something real special here. You’ll see what I mean on February 20.
Thanks to Chevelle for taking time out of her training to do the interview - and thanks again to Scott Pinsker for taking time out of his day to facilitate the interview. Chevelle is an amazing female fighter, and had a dominant victory in her pro MMA debut - I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do in her sophomore match.
(For more info on the fighters and the upcoming XFC 7, check out XFC.)